Pensioners furious after Ryanair flight leaves without them

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A retired couple saw their Ryanair flight leave without them – despite arriving at their gate early.

Margaret and John Harrop were due to fly out to Alicante on Ryanair flight FR4080 at 11am on September 28 to see their son Keith, after he moved to Spain.

But the couple said that they were forced to watch as their flight took off without them, whilst they were still waiting to be put on the plane. In fact, Margaret and John were among seven people who watched the plane taxi onto the runway and leave without them from a special assistance vehicle just “yards away.”

Speaking to the Chronicle Live, the couple also claim that they saw their luggage being removed from the aircraft ahead of its take off.

The couple, from Kenton, Newcastle, had arrived at the airport well in advance of their 11am flight, getting to the airport at 8.20am, depositing their suitcases and heading through security without a hitch. They went to special assistance as Margaret is disabled, and were told to be at Gate 19 for 10am, saying that they arrived 20 minutes before. 

They were then taken to board the plane and were waiting on a special assistance lift “10 or 20 yards” from the plane. Despite that, they weren’t able to board – which Ryanair put down to the special assistance provider’s failure to “fulfil their responsibility to these passengers causing them to miss their flight”.

John said: “We got one of these shuttle lifts that raises you up and puts you in the plane if you’re disabled, and we could see people getting onto the other side of the plane. We couldn’t see their faces, but then we started to see one or two bags being taken off and Margaret said to me, ‘that’s our bag.’ I said, it can’t be.

“We were standing there for about 25 minutes and then all of a sudden, the plane started to move and Margaret said that plane’s moving, and I said of course it wasn’t we’re not on it yet! But it was.”

“The bloke in charge of the shuttle was mumbling and he said there’s been an issue, but he wouldn’t say anymore.”

Margaret and John were then taken back to the terminal, where they were made to wait for “an hour, maybe more,” while airport staff were “having a meeting.”

After apologising, the seven passengers left behind were promised places on the flight at 6am the following morning, which had eight vacancies. John and Margaret were also offered the option of staying at a hotel at the airport, which the other five guests chose, or a taxi to go home and return for the flight the following morning. 

Margaret, 76, said: “It was a bit of a nightmare, we don’t really know whose fault it was because we never got to know. We still don’t know the full story. I knew my son and his partner were over there waiting for us, it’s a while since we’ve seen them so it was very disappointing, especially having to come back to the horrible weather on Wednesday afternoon. It was so, so annoying and we were disappointed not only because we didn’t get there on Wednesday, but because nobody informed us about anything.

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“All my medication was in the case and I didn’t know whether it was on the plane or not – I’ve got it now, but nobody told us anything. We were there in loads of time, everybody was. We were just sitting in the departure lounge until they came for us – it wasn’t any of our faults because we were already there.

“It just shouldn’t have happened, if it’d been the other way and I had been able to just been able to walk up the stairs, I would have been on my holidays.”

Margaret’s son Keith said: “Luckily they haven’t got a hotel booked, they’re just staying with us. So they’re not losing any money, but it was upsetting for them.

“I was really annoyed just by the way they were treated. My mam has bad mobility with her legs, high blood pressure and a few medical conditions, stress is the last thing she needs.”

The couple are now in Spain enjoying quality time with Keith and Lynne, on a 16-day trip instead of the originally planned 17.

A spokesperson from Newcastle Airport said: “Following investigation, we can confirm that seven passengers that were assisted with their journey through the airport were unable to travel. The passengers arrived at the aircraft in advance of the scheduled departure time but were not permitted to board the aircraft.

“Newcastle Airport assisted all customers affected by ensuring they departed on the next available flight.”

A spokesperson from Ryanair said: “Special assistance at Newcastle Airport is provided by a third party – not by Ryanair. We are disappointed that the third party provider at Newcastle Airport failed to fulfil their responsibility to these passengers causing them to miss their flight.”

Ryanair declined to answer the Chronicle’s enquiries on why the plane did not wait for those on the special assistance vehicle and why Mr and Mrs Harrop’s luggage was removed from the plane.

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